Dance With Their Energy (WT634)

Dance With Their Energy (WT634)


WT 634 Dance with their energy

In today’s Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience I ended up doing an impromptu Aikido demonstration with one of the participants.

Aikido is a martial art and one of its principles is to dance with the energy of your opponent.

How is this relevant to leadership?

As I explained in the session, when we are confronted by an angry team member or customer, often our first reaction is to push back and resist. This doesn’t help to resolve the situation. Rather it either keeps us stuck resisting each other or inflames the situation.

With the principle of Aikido, you actually welcome the energy of your opponent and you dance with it. This means you take their force and you control it.

The same thing is possible when confronted by an angry or passionate person. Figuratively speaking, you want to welcome the energy and dance with it.

You do this by using your Active Listening skills.

Rather than defending or justifying yourself, or worse, arguing and resisting, if you listen to what the other is saying, and I mean Active Listen them, as in demonstrate you heard and understood, you actually reduce the energy they are thrusting at you.

When you have embraced their energy and what they are saying, you are in a much better position to be able to assert yourself and be heard.

For example, say a customer is screaming at you because their favourite cereal is not available. Rather than defending yourself or the company, manufacturer or courier company, active listen to what they are saying and if they demand that you take a certain course of action, simply respond with “Yes, we can do that AND ………”. The “AND” enables you to offer an alternative solution without causing them to increase their intensity and conviction.

You don’t need to argue. You can simply active listen, agree that what they are suggesting is something that “could be done” and then when you have helped them to calm down and be more responsive to your suggestions, you can assert yourself and work towards collaborating to find a mutually agreeable solution.

I encourage you to test it out.

Dance with their energy rather than fight with or resist it.

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Trust Them To Do The Job (WT631)

Trust Them To Do The Job (WT631)


WT 631 Trust them to do the job

In over 40 years of working, I’ve never met anyone who said they like to be micromanaged.

What is micromanaging?

For me, micromanaging is not trusting your people to do the work.

It’s being critical instead of grateful.

Micromanagers blame others when things go wrong and they don’t take responsibility. “Why did you do that, when I told you to do this?”

Micromanagers are also passive aggressive. “If I’m not around, what are you going to do – nothing?”

Micromanagers confuse their people. “Why didn’t you let me check before you sent that out?” “Why don’t you think for yourself?”

Micromanagers cause their people to go into the primal state, causing them to feel anxious and fearful.

When you’re in the primal state, your only thoughts and bodily actions are those of survival.  If we want people to be creative and solve problems, we need to encourage them. We need them in the powerful state.

You have to trust your team to do the job.

That includes making sure you give good instructions and training. Empower your team to step up. Encourage them to succeed. Praise them when they do.

Normally a conscientious employee, I learned to become helpless and to submit inferior work when one of my bosses asked me to draft letters and marketing material on his behalf.  After drafting a couple, which I had poured my heart and soul into getting right, he took out the red pen and made comments all over them.  I learned that I was never going to make him happy. I learned that he would always “improve” what I had done, so I started to care less. I would quickly write something on paper, without giving it too much thought because I knew he would edit it anyway. It didn’t make me feel very good because I am an achiever. With that boss, I never felt like I could achieve.

If you’re a leader, manager, supervisor or colleague. Empower your team. Trust them to do the job. The more you trust them, the more they’ll give you. The more they give you, the more they’ll feel like they are achieving and in the powerful state. They’ll come up with even more solutions and ideas and they’ll love you and be loyal.

Nobody likes a micromanager. Trust your people to do the job.

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Shirl Wants One (WT525)

Shirl Wants One (WT525)


WT 625 Shirl wants one

Firstly, congratulations to our lucky winners from last week, where we celebrated 12 years of thoughts and welcome to our new subscribers.

Last week I attended the Lake Macquarie Women in Business Network and gave a presentation on How Your Personality Affects How Well You Lead.

It was a lot of fun with a great group of ladies.

We went through the REACH profiles and had a giggle at some of the differences.

This week’s thought continues the theme, however I didn’t find the example I’m about to share, as funny.

Here’s what happened:

Ross has a mate whose mum has dementia and yet she is still able to sew. She makes beautiful little zippered bags for your cosmetics or coins etc. and some lovely bags to hold your pegs, which clip onto your clothesline.

Ross’ mate was visiting his mum on the long weekend.

I asked Ross if he could call his mate and ask if his mum had any more peg bags.

I overheard Ross leaving a message for his mate.

“Has your mum got any more peg bags? Shirl wants one.”


“Wow! That is such a Driver comment”, I said to Ross.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Straight to the point. No niceties, no rapport, no manners”, I replied.

“What’s wrong with that?” he said. “You do want one.”

“Yes. I do want one, however that’s not the way I would have asked.”

“So what would you have said”, he challenged.

“I would have shown appreciation for him and his mum. For example, hey Shane, Shirl really loves those peg bags that your mum makes. She was wondering if she has some, could you please bring one back for her.”

“There’s no need for all that”, says Ross. “You want one. I asked.”

Oh dear!  That’s an example of the difference between a Driver personality and a Coach personality.

At the end of the day, I suppose neither is right or wrong. We are just different. The important thing is to use the right “language” for the right personality.

How would you have asked? What would you have said?

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For What Purpose? (WT623)

For What Purpose? (WT623)


WT 623 For what purpose

As always, I love to hear your feedback and especially to know that you are sharing the thoughts with your friends, family and colleagues.

Last week I received a number of responses regarding saying “No”. Thanks everyone for your replies.

There is one response in particular that I want to share with you.

It comes from a long time reader and supporter, John Lizzio. Thank you John.

John shared that his colleague Catherine Cooper Norwood (RIP) used to say the three most important words in any language are “For what Purpose”.

A question to be asked constantly and then followed by a resounding “Yes” or a respectful and polite “No, thank you”.

I love this.

It’s a great question to ask, especially when you feel like you may have been ambushed into saying “Yes” when you really want to say “No”.

Another little gem I picked up along the way comes from the late Geoff Kirkwood. Geoff used to say, “Questions are the Answer”.

It took me a while to wrap my head around this until he demonstrated it beautifully one time.

We were having a meeting at a venue on the Central Coast and one of the hospitality staff came in and asked us to relocate to another room.

Geoff didn’t want to move rooms. He responded with, “Are you asking us to pack up and move into another room, when we’ve booked this one and already set up?”


With that, the staff member reconsidered the request and we got to stay in the room.

In our leadership experience we explore the reasons why we say “Yes” when we really want to say “No”. Feeling ambushed is one of them.

I also highly recommend you read or listen to the book, “Never Split the Difference” by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz. They share many strategies and scripts, of which repeating a statement that sounds like a question is one. For example, using the room relocation request above, we could also respond with “So you want us to pack up and move to another room?”  It’s what I call a Statement/Question.  Aussies are so good at these.  So good, that we often confuse people from other countries when we make a statement but end in a high pitch which turns it into a question.

Your challenge this week is to practise the above tips and techniques. You do want your time back, don’t you?

P.S.  Early Bird Discount, (saving up to $1500) for our August Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience ends on 30th June, 2022. More info here:

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Because John Said (WT621)

Because John Said (WT621)


WT 621 Because John said

Twenty years ago, I shouted myself a gold signet ring with the initials R&S etched onto the face of the ring.

Overall, I was happy enough with the ring, however one thing bothered me and that was the shape.

In my mind, I had visualised the ring to be more elongated. To me, it was a bit “fat”.

Each time I would look at the ring, I would feel a bit of an “uggh”.

This week I was talking with John who owns a very successful jewellery store and I showed him my signet ring.

He asked to look at it more closely, so I took it off and gave it to him.

“When I look at the ring Shirl, it looks like a perfect signet ring to me”, he said.

“It’s got such a great energy to it and it’s exactly what a signet ring is supposed to be”, he continued.

With that advice, I immediately let go of my 20 years of disappointment.

Because John said it was right, that made it right. I could relax.

Afterwards I thought about my reaction.

How come one or two simple sentences can erase 20 years worth of angst?

It was because I trusted what John said.

He’s an expert and I know he knows what he’s talking about.

If he said it was okay, then it was okay.

Who’s your John?

Who are you a John for?

Make a list of all the people in your circle whom you trust for the right advice.

Analyse your list to see the particular areas of expertise for each one.

And if you don’t have a circle of trusted advisors, then that’s your homework for this week.

Make a list of potential advisors you’d like to have and then set about making it happen.

We all need a John. Why? Because they make us feel better and help guide us along the way.

Thank you John.                                        

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There’s No Need To Point The Finger (WT615)

There’s No Need To Point The Finger (WT615)


WT 615 There is no need to point the finger

One of the profiles I use in my coaching and leadership experiences gives us a score between 1 and 10 for what we call “Impression Management”.

Impression Management is the degree to which we want others to see us in a favourable light.

It’s our lie detector.

It shows us whether you’re a people pleaser or not.

The higher the number, the more it matters to you that people like you and/or that you are concerned to do the right thing by others.

The lower the score, the less you care what others think of you and the more critical you are – critical of yourself and others.

When I first completed the profile many years ago, my Impression Management score was as low as you could score. It was one out of ten.

I didn’t know how difficult it was to be around me, criticising the work or finding fault in things people did or didn’t do, until a coach of mine blurted it out one day. “You’re just so damn hard” she said, “It’s difficult to be around when you always find fault in things”. 

Ouch and true.

From that moment of transformation I did my best to work on being less critical and more grateful for the effort and support people gave. I still have an eye for detail, however I have learned to keep my mouth shut and say “Thank you”.

For the record, I increased my score from one to three and still working on it.

Why are we talking about this? Because this past week I’ve cringed as I’ve observed others behaving like I used to.

There’s no need to point the finger.

We don’t make ourselves bigger by making someone else smaller.

Stop looking for the mistakes that others make.

We all make plenty of mistakes ourselves.

Be grateful for the contribution others are making. They’re not all as smart and efficient as you.

Rant over!

Have a great week.

P.S. The Loyal Lieutenant – How The Second-in-Command Brings The CEO’s Vision To Life. Order your copy here,

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